One Team Continues to Be a Vikings Imposter

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports.

Indeed, they have five Super Bowl trophies, but since the last triumph 28 years ago, the Dallas Cowboys turned into the Minnesota Vikings South.

Once again, with expectations through the damn roof, the Cowboys were jettisoned from the playoffs by the hot Green Bay Packers, not unlike the Vikings in years past, at least per postseason letdown.

One Team Continues to Be a Vikings Imposter

And the Cowboys were smoked. Green Bay hopped out to a commanding 48-16 lead before Dallas used proverbial “garbage time” to make the box score presentable. Dallas lost 48-32 when the horn sounded.

Continues to Be
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) looks to pass against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. © Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Since the Cowboys’ dynasty ended — so the start of the 1996 season — so-called America’s Team is 5-13 (.278) in the playoffs. The Vikings are 8-13 (.381) in the postseason since 1996. Consistently, Dallas performs respectably well in the regular season but can’t get it done in the playoffs.

Does this sound familiar?

Cowboys Get Boost before Showdown with Vikings
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

It should — it’s the accurate narrative used to describe the Vikings, and for 27 years, the theory directly applies to the Cowboys. Like clockwork, especially during the Tony Romo and Dak Prescott eras, Dallas persuades its fanbase to buy in for January football, only to encounter the flop — the thud — when it matters the most.

Of course, the Cowboys may not be beset by the Vikings’ mind-boggling, eccentric losses (see: Blair Walsh or Gary Anderson heartbreaking missed kicks), but Dallas’ postseason result is the Spider-Man Meme, with Minnesota as the makeshift combatant.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

The regular season parallels are there, too. Eerie, in fact. These are the Vikings’ and Cowboys’ regular season win percentages since the end of 1995 (Dallas’ dynastic punctuation mark):

Win Percentage,
Since 1996:

Cowboys = .541
Vikings = .541

They’re exactly the same franchise in the last 27 years, with the Vikings somehow owning a better playoff win percentage. Thankfully for the Cowboys’ sake, Dallas can kick back and pet five Lombardi trophies for solace. Minnesota cannot; it has lost four consecutive Super Bowls and six straight NFC Championships.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Lately, however, the Vikings and Cowboys are two peas in a pod. Decent or wonderful quarterback performance tricks fans into believing something special is around the bend in the postseason. Then, that feeling of dread emerges right before either team unceremoniously fires up a clunker and ends its season before the Super Bowl and often NFC Championship.

The real problem? There’s no elixir. This is just the way it is. Until it isn’t, anyway. The Cowboys’ 2023 roster was peppered with talent beyond belief. It just didn’t matter when the Packers strolled into AT&T Stadium.

A Viking fan can try to explain this to a Cowboys fan, but Super Bowls will probably follow as the immediate rebuttal, and to an extent, that’s understandable. Since 1996, though, the Cowboys have oddly turned into the Vikings.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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